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GM workers victim of disappearing jobs
Economists say a greater reliance on automated production is to blame 27%

TED GRIFFITH and STEVEN CHURCH
www.delawareonline.com
05/22/2004

Workers at General Motors' assembly plant near Newport have grown used to temporary layoffs to cope with weak sales or the launch of a new model.

This time is different.

Workers and economists said Friday that many of the 872 people about to be laid off won't be coming back.

Job loss is inevitable in auto manufacturing because technology is allowing more and more functions to be automated, economists said. In the past five years, auto manufacturing em-

ployment in the state has tumbled 27 percent to about 4,600, according to the state Department of Labor.

"These types of jobs are on the decline," said James Butkiewicz, an economics professor at the University of Delaware in Newark. "Whenever they can, companies will use technology to replace jobs done by people."

In a letter filed with the state Department of Labor, Detroit-based GM said it will eliminate 872 jobs, or nearly three-quarters of the assembly line work force, at the Saturn plant near Newport. In the notice, required by federal law, the automaker called the job reduction "permanent."

GM spokesman Dan Flores said Friday that the company had to describe the layoffs as permanent because it doesn't have a date for when workers could be called back. He said GM hopes that some employees could return to make the Pontiac Solstice, scheduled for production at the plant next summer, and an unnamed Saturn sports car the following year.

Flores said he could not estimate how many employees might be called back. He said some employees also may be eligible to retire or transfer to another GM plant.

Different from the past

Workers on Friday said the atmosphere in the plant was different from past layoffs because this time there is an assumption that some of the cuts will be permanent. Assembly line employees at Steve's Discount Liquors, a popular tavern near the plant, said Friday the level of concern depended on how much seniority a worker had.

Kevin Jones, of New Castle, said there was a lot of talk about how employees would be affected under the layoff provisions of the union's contract. Laid-off employees receive unemployment benefits from GM for up to 95 percent of their base wages for up to 42 weeks, after which they join the company's jobs bank. Once in the jobs bank, employees can be transferred to other GM plants.

"There are folks over there who are never coming back," Jones said.

Jones said that because he has been with the company for 27 years - since he was 20 years old - he is sure he will be back when the Pontiac Solstice begins production in summer 2005.

David Littmann, chief economist with Comerica Inc., a Detroit-based bank, said chances are likely to be "very poor" for a significant recovery in jobs at the GM plant. Littmann said next year probably will be disappointing for the industry because rising interest rates on auto loans will hurt sales. Further, the economist said, GM is losing market share to rivals, such as Toyota.

Even when production resumes at the plant, the odds would seem to be against a large number of workers being recalled because production isn't expected to return to previous levels, said Mike Helmar, a regional economist at West Chester, Pa.-based Economy.com.

"It will likely be a considerably smaller operation," said Helmar, a former official with the Delaware Economic Development Office.

In an another sign of apparent softness in the state's auto manufacturing sector, Stuttgart, Germany-based DaimlerChrysler AG revealed this week that its plant in Newark is cutting back operations by one day a week beginning in June. A company spokeswoman called the shift a "test" and wouldn't say whether the altered work schedule, which will remain in effect during June and July, would reduce production.

More losses expected

Job losses in the auto manufacturing sector will have a significant ripple effect on the state, economists said. Butkiewicz, of UD, estimated that each job lost at the GM plant would translate into a loss of 1.5 jobs at businesses that have relied on the plant. The Saturn plant contributed about $315 million to the state's economy in direct and indirect jobs last year, according to the Delaware Economic Development Office.

Five companies supply the plant and at least one is already cutting back because of the discontinuation of the Saturn L-series.

Full Article Here

 

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Tough crap. I am insulted to read the headline, "GM workers victim of disappearing jobs" when a previous article talked about how the UAW works at GM being laid off are getting paid better than 80% of their wages for not working.

If that's considered being a victim, then someone needs a serious realignment in their thinking.
 

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I would say they are victims in an editorial sense of the term if they never get a job with near the same benefits and pay in their lives again (this happens to a lot of people these days). It may be great to be paid for not working but it doesnt last forever and its not going to pay the house note or the car note unless they are already close to being paid off. These people will need to get jobs at one point. That being said, GM really does take care of these people for a while so they can get back on their feet.
 

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Geez...these guys run their asses off in a 45 second cycle time, pumping out cars one after the other like nobody's business...I doubt most of you union detractors could keep up with them 8 hours a day, 5 (or 6 or sometimes 7) days a week. Getting paid while laid off is part of their benefits; this means that the money they make while being laid off is money they've already earned while working, making GM some very healthy profits. I swear, I see some of the most uneducated opinions about the union here in these forums.
 

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Geez...these guys run their asses off in a 45 second cycle time, pumping out cars one after the other like nobody's business...I doubt most of you union detractors could keep up with them 8 hours a day, 5 (or 6 or sometimes 7) days a week.
you kidding right?,
how hard is it to tighten some nuts or bolts with a power wrench? :rolleyes:
anytime the car comps give out aplications looking for new workers,they have thousands of people waiting in a long line for few openings. ;)
 

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Originally posted by gmt5.3@May 23 2004, 09:37 PM
Geez...these guys run their asses off in a 45 second cycle time, pumping out cars one after the other like nobody's business...I doubt most of you union detractors could keep up with them 8 hours a day, 5 (or 6 or sometimes 7) days a week.
you kidding right?,
how hard is it to tighten some nuts or bolts with a power wrench? :rolleyes:
anytime the car comps give out aplications looking for new workers,they have thousands of people waiting in a long line for few openings. ;)
Nope he is not kidding. Especially in newer plants and GM plants who have implemented GMS(not Shreveport, broke **** Union and no balls management). The stress of doing a job that repeats itself over and over again especially when its hot out, needs to provide decent compensation. Being a Team Leader I am usually not online, but between the paperwork and the running I do, when i go home I am tired. I am probably the only Union worker who would say this but I do think we could make a couple dollars less and I could deal with that, if they used that for product development.
 

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If the workers wern't priceing themselves out of the market like they are there'd be less pressure to automate and more people would be employed.

The often overlooked truth of manufacturing job losses in the US is that these jobs aren't moving to low-wage countries, but are being replaced by robots and more effecient production techniques. Industrial output in China is actually declineing, while it's growing fast in the US.

The auto companies in fact are all developing new flexible manufacturing systems which allows them to employ a different mix of human workers and robots as the market demands (i.e. the higher the wages the more robots used), so that they can use lots of workers in very low wage countries (e.g. China) and almost all robots in the highest-wage ones (e.g. Germany).
 

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A GM hourly employee didn't paid for time off this way. This current system came in with like 2 or 3 contracts ago. There used to be system with credits and when you ran out you had to consider what you were going to stay with GM.

Also when you do get laid off it can affect when you get a raise ( added an extra 4 month's for each raise I recieved ) or when you can retire.

It can be very hard to tighten some nuts or bolts with a power wrench when you have so much space to work in.

GMS if done right should help level the playing feild in quality. It has for the GMC Savanna / Chevy Express and we arn't even done implementing it.

I am probably the only Union worker who would say this but I do think we could make a couple dollars less and I could deal with that, if they used that for product development.
I agree. I also think Skilled Trades could stand to make less.
 

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Originally posted by jarsworldcom@May 24 2004, 08:54 AM
A GM hourly employee didn't paid for time off this way. This current system came in with like 2 or 3 contracts ago. There used to be system with credits and when you ran out you had to consider what you were going to stay with GM.

Also when you do get laid off it can affect when you get a raise ( added an extra 4 month's for each raise I recieved ) or when you can retire.

It can be very hard to tighten some nuts or bolts with a power wrench when you have so much space to work in.

GMS if done right should help level the playing feild in quality. It has for the GMC Savanna / Chevy Express and we arn't even done implementing it.

I am probably the only Union worker who would say this but I do think we could make a couple dollars less and I could deal with that, if they used that for product development.
I agree. I also think Skilled Trades could stand to make less.
The real question is, are the corporate bigwigs ready to take a cut in their ridiculously huge salaries? Gary Cowger, GM Group Vice President and President of General Motors North America, earned a salary of $775,000, received $646,000 in bonuses, received $58,718 in short-term comp., $23,244 in long-term comp., and $787,000 in long-term incentive payout, for a total cash compensation of $2,289,962 for the 2003 fiscal year (source: Forbes). That's not counting his $1,166,052 in stock options. Then there's CEO G. Richard Wagoner Jr., who earned a total of $7.1 million a year.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. There is the entire board of directors, all making very excessive salaries. When the big boys up top decide they could stand to make less and use it towards the product, then I say go ahead and expect it from the guys on the line. Also, I doubt very much there's a job on the line where all you do is tighten some nuts and bolts with a power wrench. GM has those jobs loaded up as much as possible, so you have 45 seconds to not only tighten some nuts and bolts, you also have to get your stock, put a baffle on, and tighten as many bolts as they figure you can tighten within 45 seconds per job. The days of one guy tightening one bolt or putting on one part are long gone.
 

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Yes those top executive pay packages are impossible to justify (even when you consider everything is on their shoulders, they have little or no time off, and the length of their careers are limited by company politics), but in the grand sceme of things a few million for GM is NOTHING. Inflated worker pay and benefits, OTOH, are strangleing the company and costing billions. Sure the CEO cutting his pay to a more reasonable level would help symbolically (7 mill is actually very low for a company that large), but it wouldn't save any serious money.
 

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Everyone works hard, not just assembly line workers. And for semi-skilled labor, they're compensated quite handsomely. I have zero remorse for their work schedules or requirements.
 

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It’s my guess that those of you who think the executives are over paid are also huge sports fans who don’t mind athletes making the huge money….or what about… say Britney Spears who rakes in 60 million a year, or how bout Kobe Bryant who made $13 million last year. I seriously doubt that you’ve thought about if GM executives make some bad mistakes what would happen. 386,000 GM employees, and highly possible that an additional 300,000 people or more directly or indirectly would likely loose their jobs if GM went bust. That is stress, not Jerry Seinfeld having to learn 10 pages of lines for a week’s sitcom for over 1 million an episode, nor is Judge Judy making 25 million a year. Don’t get me wrong, it’s all hard work, but the stress and responsibility easily justify it.

ABC Link
 

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Does anyone know the real figures on labor cost for GM and does anyone know why the Chevrolet Lumina STILL didnt have a locking gas tank before it died?
 

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Until you consider the fact that those line workers put everything on the line every day for the next 30 years. They're the ones breathing in the weld vapours from the equipment, or the paint shop fumes, and suffering the real health problems associated with that later on in life. They're the ones that are suffering physical workplace injuries such as RSI. I doubt any of the executives could keep up with a typical line worker within the confines of their 45 second cycle time, especially in the summer heat in a non-air conditioned environment. And then consider what a worker on the line really makes. These guys on the line are making less than 1% of what your average executive makes, even after the benefits! Even after 30 years of commitment, PLUS retirement benefits, PLUS all the other benefits, your typical line worker isn't going to be anywhere near what the average executive makes.

I don't think that executives are overpaid, I don't think that major sports atheletes are overpaid...and I certainly don't think that the people on the line at GM are overpaid. I'm just painting a contrast...if you seriously think what a worker at GM makes is a lot, it's nothing compared to what the big boys up top are making. You can't expect the guys who are putting in a 30 year commitment to start giving things up if the executives aren't.
 

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There's no compareing a top executive or designer at GM to a no-skills line worker. Compared to similarly-qualified people working in other fields (construction, the service sector, etc.) the line workers are MASSIVELY overpaid. I bet for example the people serveing you at McDonalds have it a lot harder than the guy at the factory: why aren't they being paid +30 bucks an hour? Should they be?
 
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